Newcastle United are in a total mess.
That might not be news to you but when I say total mess, I really mean total mess.
I don’t just mean the first team squad severely lacking investment, or the fact that Mike Ashley has completely undermined Rafa Benitez and clearly wants him out of the club.
I mean, every single aspect, including those two above.
As well as a net spend on transfers averaging only a couple of million per season since he bought the club, Mike Ashley has refused to invest in the club’s infrastructure in any meaningful way.
As well as leaving the first team squad lacking proper investment season after season, the NUFC owner refuses to make essential investment in St James Park, the training complex, or the Academy.
Rafa Benitez has repeatedly stated that it isn’t just the first team squad that is going to rack and ruin, he has made clear that he wants to take the whole club forward – that a fit for purpose training complex and properly invested Academy are also cornerstones of that.
I’m going to talk about what has happened on the pitch across the whole club so far this season, it’s not pretty, but firstly a quote from Mike Ashley.
This weekend the media have repeatedly claimed that Ashley’s last Newcastle game was 18 months ago but it wasn’t.
It was actually Sunday 13 August 2017, ‘only’ 13 months ago, before he turned up at Palace yesterday.
That Sunday saw Mike Ashley turn up at St James Park and see us get beat 2-0 by Tottenham, before then walking away without even speaking to Rafa Benitez.
Instead, shortly after that game, there was a prerecorded ‘interview’ shown on Sky Sports. The NUFC owner’s associate David Craig conducting a quite embarrassing question and answer with Mike Ashley, that was purely to provide Ashley with a free go at putting out misinformation/PR.
Amongst it all we had this classic…
David Craig of Sky Sports (and Ashley associate):
‘You mentioned you and the Newcastle fans might be together for a while yet…what do you think can happen in that time and what do you think you can make happen?’
“My dream is from the bottom up.
“I want to start with the academy, I want to be able to produce Andy Carrolls.
“I look at Southampton and their academy, and that I think could be done. Not like Leicester, as I said I don’t believe that could happen again. But Southampton, the academy, bringing them through and making it a priority for the football club.
“This would be my dream…’
You just couldn’t make it up, all clubs dream of having an Academy that bring s players through to the first team but they walk the walk, put proper investment into it.
Rafa says to the owner that the Academy and training complex urgently need help and it is completely ignored.
This weekend the Academy team got hammered by Championship club Derby County’s Under 18s, the Rams have always had a god reputation, unlike Newcastle, for bringing through young players
By the way, the scoreline at Little Benton saw Newcastle lose at home 8-0 to Derby.
The Under 18s were missing a few players but it hardly added up to this hammering.
Going behind in the tenth minute and five down by half-time.
Derby striker Jack Stretton had scored a first half hat-trick and he got his fourth and the team’s sixth on 49 minutes.
The Rams taking pity when then shortly making a couple of substitutions, including replacing Stretton. They still scored twice more to make it 8-0 and having hit the woodwork on at least two occasions, plus young Newcastle keeper Will Brom making a string of excellent saves, it could have been so much worse.
On Friday, the Newcastle reserves were beaten by Championship club Norwich’s second string, NUFC losing 2-1 at home.
The fortunate 0-0 for the first team at Selhurst Park was actually the real high for the club this weekend…
With Rafa Benitez blocked from bringing in the first team players he needed this summer, with Ashley insisting on that £20m+ profit instead, as well as the owner blocking the manager from beginning the massive work to turn around the younger age groups, just look at the results across the club so far…
In all age groups (First team, reserves (U23s) and Academy (U18s) it reads: Played 18 Won 3 Drawn 3 Lost 12
The Academy have lost in the league 6-0 to Man City, 3-0 to West Brom, 4-1 to Liverpool, plus this 8-0 defeat by Derby. Their only successes being 1-0 victories over Sunderland and Wolves.
As for the reserves, it is a very similar story – losing to Southampton, Wolves, Reading, plus that Norwich defeat, a draw against West Brom and their only win being 5-0 against Sunderland.
The first team as you know has seen the two goalless draws and four defeats.
So 18 league games in total played and apart from two wins over League One Sunderland’s reserves and Academy, Newcastle only have that one other Academy win over Wolves.
This doesn’t mean that all players and coaches are below the standard needed, instead it just reeks of a club that is dying on its backside because of an owner who is refusing to allow the club’s own money to be spent, on starting to try and save it from the very top of the club to the very bottom.
We all know the state of the first team squad and of the infrastructure (SJP, training ground etc), but just look at how bad the whole picture is, and what we will have left when/if Rafa leaves next summer.
Yes Mike Ashley was (still is?) insisting that ‘all’ of this is worth £400m…?